And the Sky – #1on1fest

Picture of a brilliantly blue skyImage shared by SkyD on Flickr via a CC license

Thought I’d throw some brief reactions to BAC’s One on One Festival,  which I was very glad to finally get to on its last day – this Saturday.

Firstly, I love BAC. It’s the only arts centre I’ve ever felt like I belong in. This may have something to do with the kind of work I’ve experienced there – all buried away in different corners of the building, asking you to explore it – but either way I need to get back and see more things there. In fact on that note I just popped them in google reader (RSS link here) – take note theatre companies, have a blog, and mention stuff you’re doing there, a feed is a brilliant way for people to find stuff out without you bending their ear about it (Twitter, usually).

OK, so, for those not familiar with the #1on1fest format – basically it’s an awful lot of pieces of theatre/performance/intervention/experience for one. Or occasionally two. But mostly one. For this version of the festival I picked a set ‘menu’ of 3 piece (one main, two sides), but could also ‘do’ one of 10 extra pieces around the building, ranging from posters appearing throughout the building which suggested progressively scenes for two people to play out, to a couple of tin cans on a piece of string for you to ‘phone in’ famous movie lines from, and a mysterious message about the ‘loveliness principle’ which gave you a series of clue to follow if you called a certain number.

I chose the ‘out of body’ set menu. I write an awful lot about immersive things, I kind of felt myself interested in intimate or single-person experiences to transport rather than immerse. Here’s what I got:

You Only Live Twice (But Die Once) – Kazuko Hohki

This played pleasantly with sound. Introduced (after removing your shoes) to a light, minimalist space, you lie down on a futon and voices speak to you from a radio, and inside your pillow. They can hear you reply. Unfortunately there was a lot of noise bleeding in from outside so I never quite drifted into the world of the piece. This meant the payoff (SPOILER, SKIP TO THE NEXT PARAGRAPH IF YOU DON’T WANT IT) of your being woken by a lady ninja above your head, didn’t quite hit it. For me, female eyes looking through a space in black fabric says ‘burqa’ before it says ‘ninja’. This may be a British thing, or it may have been I never quite left my British body behind well enough for it to work.

And the Birds Fell From the Sky – Il Pixel Rosso

This was my ‘main’. A piece using video played into a visor, 3d sound in headphones, and the effect of sprayed whisky, brushes of hands, and the sitting down on a vibrating car seat to create an out-of-body (or in-another’s-body) experience. It almost worked. I just needed more time. You waited, before being taken into the room, in a cupboard, with fizzing sound, reports of strange happenings on a TV, and parish newsletters left in front of you. I needed more time there. To absorb the world of the piece. I didn’t need to be told to pick up a piece of paper. With more time, I would have done. Then into the room where the bulk of the experience happened. My goggles didn’t go on quite well enough (probably my own fault) but that was much less of a problem than the physical touches that didn’t quite imitate what I was seeing – either in essence, or in timing. I think this is something the Lundahl and Seitl piece at Fierce did better – perhaps that’s why they didn’t play more specifically with the senses – too much margin for error? Anyway. And the Birds… was a fascinating piece, that I wanted to spend more time with. It almost worked.

Observation Deck – Patrick Killoran

I loved this. Led into a bright, white room on the top floor of BAC, with a billowing blue sky through a window thrown open, I was asked to leave my bags by a chair, and walk up a strange wooden construction attached to the window and lie on the wood platform, level with the open window. Then I was slid out. Actually rolled out until I was lying in the air above Theatre Street. I was left there for about 8-10 minutes. It was bright as hell. And the blue sky was beautiful. I heard conversations and footsteps, looked down to see people lighting cigarettes, people helping others pick up dropped shopping bags. The sunlight lit my face, and the wind played with my hair. Theatre? Performance? Experience? I’m not going to mess around talking about semantics, I don’t care; I left the room grinning, and so did everyone else I saw leave it.

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